If you’re desiring a holy and authentic Catholic marriage, you might feel discouraged during your online Catholic dating experience. After all, even finding friends who share your values and morals can be difficult. The search for finding someone to discern a relationship with who is striving for virtue can be exponentially more challenging.
If you’re feeling discouraged in your search for a holy spouse, you’re not alone. But there’s no need to let this discouragement win. Here are four things to bring you hope if you’re overwhelmed with the feeling that you’ll never be able to find someone who shares your values and beliefs.
1. Begin with prayer
Starting with prayer sounds like a no-brainer for us as Catholics. However, it is surprising how often all of us forget to make a conscious effort to bring our trials and our discouragements to God. If you’re feeling discouraged in this area, make a plan to bring it to prayer.
Try setting aside time with Jesus in adoration. Talk to him like you would to a friend. Ask him to help you with both your feelings of discouragement and your desire for a holy spouse. Try offering up your feelings of discouragement and the suffering it brings you. Perhaps try meditating on the feelings of discouragement Jesus felt at so many moments of his earthly life. Though we can’t expect prayer to instantly make discouraging feelings completely vanish, bringing these feelings to God is definitely a good place to start.
2. Look for encouragement from holy examples
It can be hard to hold on to hope for discerning a relationship with someone striving for virtue if you’re surrounded by people who don’t value virtue. Purposefully seek out some examples of holy couples.
Start by thinking about holy couples you know. How is your parents’ marriage? Some of us have been blessed to have wonderful, holy examples in our parents. If not, look to your siblings, cousins, and friends. If you can find any good examples among these people, make an effort to spend more time with them when you can.
But even if you can’t think of any couple you know who is striving for virtue, try looking to the saints. Read about Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of Saint Therese. Research other married saints, learn more about their lives, and ask them for intercession.
3. Take a step back from pop culture
Taking a step back from pop culture can be difficult for some, and no problem for others. But if you’re struggling with feelings of discouragement, consider taking a break or cutting back from various areas of pop culture consumption in your life.
If you’re prone to scrolling Instagram and Facebook for large portions of time, chances are that you’ll find plenty of examples of couples not striving for holiness. Perhaps the worst source of discouragement here can be that awful moment when you realize a friend from college has left the faith, or when you see a person you thought was doing well with their faith is advocating for something contradictory to Catholic teaching.
Unfortunately, you’ll probably continue coming across these discouraging tidbits for the rest of your life at certain points. But when you start to lose hope, it can be a good idea to scale back your consumption of wherever you’re finding them.
The same can be said of other pop culture elements. If you’re finding that all movies and TV you tend to watch show decadent, immoral lifestyles constantly, take a break from this material. Pick up a classic novel for entertainment, or maybe take a brief foray into classic family movies you loved in childhood. If nothing else, it could be good for a laugh at how cheesy they are!
If you find that practically every song you listen to reminds you that morality has largely gone out the window in society, try switching genres for a while. Start listening to music from a decade or two ago. You could even try substituting a podcast instead of music for a while.
4. Recommit yourself to a life of virtue
As discouraging as it can be when it begins to seem like there’s no one out there to date who actually shares your faith and values, remember that you can focus on growing in your own interior life. If you feel discouraged in this area, shift your focus onto your own spiritual journey. Work on improving your prayer life. Ask yourself honestly if there are any areas you can improve on your holy witness to others.
Even though it can feel like nothing you will do can ever make a significant difference on our culture or the world around us, you can never really know what your example of holy living will do for others. Commit yourself anew to living radically for God and to doing all you can to evangelize others. You never know how God might work through you to bring others to him through a life that witnesses to his truth, beauty, and goodness.
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